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Strong support for carbon reduction in Watford’s sustainability survey

THE results of Watford’s biggest ever public consultation on the sustainable future of the town show that over 94% of respondents want to reduce their carbon footprint and 88% of people support the council’s 2030 net-zero carbon target.

Over the summer, the Watford Borough Council asked residents, businesses, and interest groups how they would go about tackling Watford’s commitment to reduce the carbon footprint. The results will help shape a new Sustainability Action Plan, which will require making big changes to the way we all live, travel and work.

The consultation had a particular focus on understanding people’s awareness of climate change, behaviours and habits and the challenges of meeting the council’s 2030 net-zero carbon target for the town.

More than 297 responses were received, with 49% agreeing that the council is ‘doing a lot to improve the sustainability of the town’. Respondents rated the Beryl bike share scheme as most beneficial to the environment followed by home insulation schemes. Barriers to more sustainable behaviour included lack of infrastructure and facilities, lack of money, lack of public transport.

Nature and biodiversity are important to 90% of people with 60% of respondents using Watford’s park/green spaces several times a week. People want to see: more trees, wildflower meadows, wildflower verges, green spaces, cycle routes, nature trails and walks, less litter, less development.

Respondents were asked what would be effective measures in terms of encouraging more people to use sustainable transport choices in Watford. Results show that 58% of people would like to use their car less and 57% of car owners would like to switch to EVs but felt the cost was prohibitive. 50% of people would like to use public transport more, but felt it isn’t feasible for the journeys they have to make. 65% of people would like to improve the energy efficiency of their homes but needed more information on the best actions to take.

Chair of the Sustainability Forum Cllr Ian Stotesbury said: “A key part of the Sustainability Action Plan looks at people power - harnessing the energy and drive of residents to make changes on a local level and the survey provides the Council with valuable information on the type of schemes which the public think might be effective. The ongoing forum will continue to steer and feedback on the council’s plans."

Cllr Tim Williams, Cabinet Member for Sustainability said “We received some terrific ideas from the survey for improving the sustainability of the town including introducing electric taxis, refill shops, more cycle routes, more EV charging points, a building materials reuse scheme, meat-free and car-free days, eco-homes and so much more – a big thank you to everyone who took part.

The council also recently held its first Sustainability Forum with over 30 residents and groups participating via a virtual meeting. To get involved and find out more on the town’s sustainable plan and projects, please visit www.watford.gov.uk/sustainablewatford